Black vinegar advice?? Shopping today

Last minute request!
I’m going to chinatown shortly and last time i just kinda guessed which black vinegar to buy and it was super nasty…! I had something ethereal and fantastic last time i went to shanghai, was served with minced ginger for dumpling dipping (native speaker with us asked waitress for me and reply was just black vinegar and ginger)
Any favorite brands?
Or what should the ingredients read?
There’s like a wall of them at the chinese grocery store I’m going to and i just kinda stand there dumbfounded :joy:

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You would probably prefer one with an age statement, (more mellow) - if you see that option.

I’ve made the mistake of just grabbing whatever bottle without checking the ingredients first - don’t! The bottle with the red label pictured on the right was not good: it’s Taiwanese. It has all kinds of things I think don’t belong like onion, orange juice, tomato paste, carrot juice, caramel. Gross flavor (or at least not what I expected). The Chinese one with the yellow label on the left is much better; look for something with simple ingredients like water, glutinous rice, wheat bran, sugar, and salt.


I have the one on the left in @ChristinaM’s pic.

Re the dipping sauce - that’s what’s served with soup dumplings / xlb - the vinegar is often diluted with water - straight black vinegar is very strong imo, so try thinning it.


And I’ve tried the one on the right (red label). It’s very intense.

Thank you SO MUCH!!!
I’m literally in the aisle looking at this

And they have the one you don’t like among many others
This looks like most similar to the one on the left to me, going to get this one! :crossed_fingers:


Hope it works out for you! Jealous of your selection, but I can see how it would overwhelm.

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that is the one I use, mainly for soup


It’s so hard when people recommend Asian brands to me since my markets often don’t have the brand recommended, so I end up being stuck again. Ingredients are always a good place to start as called out above.


That is the one recommended by another site I’ve been cooking from . . . or at least I think it is - the logo is slightly different but the label is so similar. . . .


I don’t remember if I bought this and brought back from Hong Kong or bought it here. The taste is light, refreshing and easy to use for most dishes.


Maybe try to avoid this one from Taiwan. Unless you want something strong and spicy (taste close to 5 spices). Useful with stews. There are onion, orange, carrot juice and tomato paste.

One of yellow label brands is the one most restaurants in the Bay Area use. The Shanxi mature vinegar in the upper left has developed flavors and is good in recipes, but it’s the wrong taste (for me) for dipping dumplings.


Exactly- i had it several places but the restaurant in shanghai we had gone to soecialized in XLB (unfortunately no such thing as vegetarian ones, but had the best mushroom dumplings of my life)

This seems nearly identical to the one i bought…!

Agreed except the circle logo on the top of the label is different (yours looks like YY, the other is a flower) - I only point it out because I run into a LOT of nearly identical labels from different brands on some asian ingredients. I wish I read any asian language, it would make shopping for these ingredients so much easier.


I use the Kong Yen for stuff like wood ear salad, and I like it fine. Curious what your objection to it is (beyond the ingredient list).

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Thank you everyone for the help!!
@ChristinaM ‘s photos were awesome as i was in front of the crazy wall of choices
I wanted to buy more than one (everything is so cheap at this market, my bottle was maybe $2!) but already had heavy things which is a big consideration when shopping in nyc.

Tasted straight from the bottle it’s not too overpowering. I made a fresh beansprout salad thing, kind of a korean chinese banchan and used the black vinegar with a bit of microplane ginger, a splash of soy, the beansprouts, scallion and sesame seeds. Very tasty!


Is that Kam Man?

Hong kong supermarket. I’ve been a loyal customer since i was in college! (Although thank goodness they moved to the bigger space a few years ago)

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I recognize the red label, from out sauce drawer. :slight_smile:

My wife says that is the brand she grew up with in Taiwan, and its still the most popular brand on the island.

I’m not a vinegar lover by any stretch, so it tastes fine to me. Need to expand my reach.